The University awarded 20 college-bound Providence high school graduates awards from its Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University honored 20 high school graduates from Providence chosen to receive scholarships from the Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence during an event at President Christina Paxson’s home on the evening of Tuesday, June 28.

Before receiving their scholarship checks and certificates of achievement, the students, their parents, and school and elected officials listened to remarks by Paxson, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Superintendent of Providence Schools Chris Maher, and Doris De Los Santos, executive director of partnership and engagement for Providence schools, who works closely with Brown staff to administer the scholarship program.

Elyssa Perez, a 2015 recipient of the scholarship who recently completed her first year at Brown, also spoke.

For the last four years, the Fund — established in response to recommendations from the University’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, whose charge was to acknowledge the damage done by slavery and to recommend ways that Brown might create a more just future — has been used to support the scholarships awarded to graduates of Providence’s public high schools.

“I am really overjoyed that Brown University in a small way is able to help you realize your dreams of going to college,” Paxson told the recipients. “This is what we do — promote education in the service of society.”

The students each received a $2,500 scholarship toward their college expenses. They represent five Providence high schools and plan to attend four-year institutions of higher education in the coming year, including Brown, Dickinson College, Boston University, Connecticut College, Johnson and Wales University, Bay Path University, the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College.

Recipient Olufisayo Ayanfalu graduated from Mount Pleasant High School and will attend Rhode Island College, where he plans to study computer science. After he received his award, Ayanfalu echoed the themes of service to community and the broader world that emerged from many of the scholars’ applications. 

“I don’t want to keep my knowledge to myself,” Ayanfalu said. “I want to pass it along to the others, so that the next generation can do better.”

In her remarks, Perez acknowledged the exciting but sometimes difficult transition to college that lies ahead for this group of graduates. 

“Within your growth process will come challenges,” she said. “As you know, it isn’t easy to balance academics, activities, a social life, even sleep. On top of that, you’ll be entering new environments and learning how to adapt to them. In your moments of doubt, I hope you find motivation to keep working toward your goals and remember that there are people who see a lot of great potential in you.”

Paxson also offered advice to the graduates, advising them to keep in mind that life is not always a straight and neat line and that they should always keep their minds open to new possibilities. 

“What I hope is that you will keep that openness to new experiences, new people and new ideas and really be prepared for some twists and turns in the four years to come and beyond,” Paxson said. “I know you will get the most of your college experience if you do that.”

A broad-based committee chooses the awardees. Recipients must maintain a 3.0 or higher grade point average throughout high school, have a strong attendance record and demonstrate financial need. Preference is given to students who would be the first in their families to attend college. Applicants are asked to write short essays as part of the application. Essay questions this year asked applicants to reflect on how they had positively contributed to their high schools and communities and which person they admire they would want to have lunch with. They also were asked to design and describe a high school course.

The 2015-16 Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence scholars include:

Afaf Akid attended E-Cubed High School and will attend Connecticut College

Andreysi Ortiz Estevez attended Alvarez High School and will attend the University of Rhode Island

Albert Zleh attended Mount Pleasant High School and will attend the University of Rhode Island

Heather Argueta attended Classical High School and will attend Brown University

Deborah Baguma attended Mount Pleasant High School and will attend the University of Rhode Island

Ilsa Garcia Martinez attended Alvarez High School and will attend Rhode Island College

Aminata Traore attended Alvarez High School and will attend Johnson Wales University

Silvana Doak attended Alvarez High School and will attend the University of Rhode Island

Liliana Ramos attended Alvarez High School and will attend the University of Rhode Island

Victor Wale attended Hope High School and will attend the University of Rhode Island

Jailine Jimenez attended Mount Pleasant High School and will attend the University of Rhode Island

Chelsea Villavicencio attended Mount Pleasant High School and will attend the University of Rhode Island

Estrella Estevez attended Alvarez High School and will attend Rhode Island College

Antranik Antranik attended Mount Pleasant High School and will attend the University of Rhode Island

Olufisayo Ayanfalu attended Mount Pleasant High School and will attend Rhode Island College

Krishna Odari attended Alvarez High School and will attend Dickinson College

Darlin Hernandez Martinez attended Alvarez High School and will attend Rhode Island College

Gabriel Perez attended Mount Pleasant High School and will attend the University of Rhode Island

Kankan Ndoye attended Classical High School and will attend Bay Path University

Hafzat Akanni attended Hope High School and will attend Boston University